There’s been much said – mostly negative, vitriolic ramblings – about the next-generation console from Microsoft’s rumoured perpetual internet requirements. While it’s more than likely that the console will indeed require an internet connection, is that so very different from the Xbox 360 as it stands right now?
If you have an Xbox live account and an active internet connection, when you boot up your console it automatically connects to Xbox Live, giving the user a richer experience with a live dashboard with evolving content. Sure, most if that content is advertising right now, but in the future it’s quite likely that it’ll have an embedded social activity stream, not unlike Twitter or Facebook – just a little more gamer centric.
That’s the scenario painted by Polygon in its latest batch of Xbox rumours. They say that Xbox Live’s friends system is set for a radical overhaul, where you’ll be able to “follow” other gamers instead of being tied to the two-way friends system that’s currently in place. If Xbox live were to function like a social network, that would make the Xbox’s perpetual online requirement make sense.
Unfortunately, it seems as though the online requirement might actually be used for the very thing we’re all fearing; DRM. According to Polygon, the internet connection could be used as some sort of anti-piracy tool, with the system’s built-in DRM checking to see a game’s legitimacy. They say that as it stands right now, while the option is there to have games play completely offline, other games might need to be authenticated online either as a one-time authentication, or requiring a perpetual connection.
That’s very much the way Pc games function, making the next Xbox more like a PC than ever. It’ll be left up to publishers to decide whether or not to implement such checks.
In his most recent batch of details, Paul Thurrot says that the next Xbox’s online requirement won’t be as draconian as we believe. I hope he’s right.